20 Things You Didn't Know About NASA

Bright lights spotted on a distant planet: it might be time to brush up...

There might finally be an answer to whether there is other life in the universe, as NASA's dawn spacecraft has picked up lights on distant dwarf planet Ceres. Is it proof that aliens exist? Are they cavalier about their electricity bills? Whatever the answers to those questions, it's a good time to think about the agency entrusted with finding out the answers. Did you know for example that Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, handed in his NASA application a week late, and were it not for a friend secretly slipping it into the pile, he would've been rejected? Or that the space agency no longer has the original video tapes of said Moon landing because they recorded over them? No wonder people don't believe it didn't happen. Most people probably don't even know what NASA stands for off the top of their heads - it's the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, just so you know - let alone what they do on an average day. Or even what they get up to on a non-average day, for that matter. For the most part they're shrouded in mystery, celebrated for their achievements (such as the Apollo space missions) and remembered for their failures (the tragedy of the Challenger crash still weighs heavy in living memory), with not a whole lot else known in between that. What do these space folks do besides build rockets? Are those rockets any good? Are all these myths and urban legends we hear about them true? And what's the favoured carbonated cola drink of the American astronaut? We promise to uncover all of these things and more - so, so much more - as we go through twenty things you didn't know about NASA. If you want to tell us in the comments that the end result is "astronomical!" or "out of this world!", well, we can't tell you to do that, but we're also not going to condemn you, either.
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Tom Baker is the Comics Editor at WhatCulture! He's heard all the Doctor Who jokes, but not many about Randall and Hopkirk. He also blogs at http://communibearsilostate.wordpress.com/